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Archive 2
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Randy Lexicographers
James Skinner

Humans, like any other animals, can be sexually aroused. An almost infinite number of reasons can stimulate the body into a copulating mode. An erect penis or a swollen vagina is a sign of need. It can be as normal as thirst or hunger that transform into a desire to drink or eat. But, apart from these carnal instincts, what is the next step in the build up of these emotions that differentiates man from beast? To what extent can a human being control them, and in the case of sex, conform to what is considered normal behaviour? A cold analytical approach may reveal some interesting facts.

A dictionary is a book that contains and describes the meaning of all or most words used in a language. It includes the legal definition of every aspect of life and the universe represented in dialogue and print. It is the result of generations of scholars and intellects the world over, that have contributed to civilisation by logging the changes of man’s vocabulary as he developed through the ages. It is our non-religious bible of information. Exploring the relevant areas contained in one of these literary tools will be a good start to help identify and interpret the normal sexual behaviour between human beings.

“Normal. Adjective: according to what is expected, usual, or average. Of a person: developing in the expected way; without any disorder in mind or body”. This is typical, in this case a 1970’s version, of an English dictionary’s description of the word ‘normal’. If we continue our investigation, turn the pages of the same book and under ‘s’ look up the word ‘sexual intercourse’, we find the following standard definition:
“Sexual intercourse: The bodily act between two animals or people in which the male sex organ enters the female”.

Logical conclusion therefore is that in the seventies it would be normal for two persons, one male and one female, to engage, on average, in sexual intercourse as described above. Pretty simple and straightforward really, but let us take things one step further. What about other related words such as adultery, fornication, homosexual, lesbian, sodomy, fellatio, cunnilingus, masturbation? How do they fit into the equation? They are all legally described in the dictionary. Are they accepted as normal?

Adultery and fornication go hand in hand. The dictionary clearly defines them as having sexual intercourse, again between male and female, but in this case it is when one or both parties are either unmarried or not married to each other. We all know that this is in some cases, ethically and religiously unacceptable but quite normal amongst consenting adults.

How about homosexual and lesbian? Thirty years ago, although society turned a blind eye to this kind of relationship, lexicographers were hard at work. The period dictionary therefore describes the sexual relationship between humans of the same sex as an ‘attraction’. It doesn’t say what they do. Very quaint. But when we continue to look up those other words describing sexual acts other than intercourse, a vivid picture can be drawn of what else went on, even in seventies’ society.

Fellatio is the opposite of cunnilingus. Masturbation is the most sedate, as it merely states the stimulation of the sex organ by handling or rubbing. Mentioning sodomy is out of the question. In all cases, the male sexual organ has nothing to do with the female organ. They don’t go anywhere near each other. In these cases, the description implies that other parts of the human body are involved. One would assume therefore that lips, mouths, tongues, hands and even feet are involved in sexual activity.

Under ‘normal’ circumstances, as defined in our book, these other members of the body have nothing to do with sex. We use our feet to walk, run, kick and climb and our hands to lift, hold, grip and a multitude of other physical activities. Our mouth is used to eat, drink, talk and breathe, whilst our tongue is a jack-of-all trades that compliments the mouth. These are our body’s work tools. Now enter the missing links: words like caress, lick, stroke and, yes, love!

Alas! A broader dimension to human relations as well as sex, is introduced by examining the meaning of these words. According to the description, we convey our feelings towards our fellow humans by means of the physical use of our body tools. We may caress or stroke each other to comfort or appease. For example, if we are upset, tired or ill. But again, we may also stroke, lick or caress a penis or vagina as sexual stimulation and sum it all up as an act of love. All is included and acceptable according to the dictionary.

Finally, a mention on climax and orgasm. Climax, a multiple meaning word, is also described as the best part of sex. Orgasm goes straight to the point as ‘the highest point of sexual pleasure’. So there you have it. Sexual behaviour in all its ‘known’ variations as described by a dictionary, albeit in bits and pieces.

But, again, what is normal sexual behaviour? So far, exploring the English book of words has thrown light on the variations of the act. It has also touched briefly on the human feelings and reactions involved. But it does not clarify what really can be considered as normal. Why do we indulge in sex anyway?

The best possible explanation is the scientific one. We are sexually aroused and have intercourse to reproduce and further the continuation of the human race. But we are also intelligent animals with an analytical brain. Therefore, we are able to conjure up all sorts of variations to the same theme and turn a completely filthy physical act of procreation into a pleasurable sport, diversion or entertainment. It really doesn’t matter whether it is considered normal or not. As long as humans don’t hurt each other or go against the law, long live normal sexual behaviour, whatever it may be!

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